Lightweight, low-power drones can fly for nearly half an hour

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While humans can fly with the help of a wealth of engineering, Mother Nature has come up with simpler ways to soar, like the way a maple tree spins its seeds dispersion Float in the wind like an unpowered helicopter.This is a very efficient design, and inspired this sSimilar to light drones It can even record video – albeit spinning all the time.

We’ve seen other researchers look to this mighty maple tree for inspiration before, including engineers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who created a Sensor microchip with small wings That allow They can passively float in the breeze and spin as they descend, making them easier to distribute over large areas without each MAV having its own power source.

Researchers at City University of Hong Kong also drew inspiration from the unique way maple trees are seeded to help design a battery-powered drone that can draw power to help increase flight time. As powerful as most quadrotor drones these days, the four propeller setup helps keep them stable while offering impressive flight agility, but also requires a lot of power and a thick battery onboard to get the job done. Stay in the air.

In a recent paper published in the journal scientific robotthe researchers detail their twin-rotor vehicle design, which is primarily built around two wings in a symmetrical layout– like the rotors on top of most helicopters – Electronics and Batteries in the middle of the device. The wingspan of a twin-rotor is almost 24 inches wide, but it Made with a lightweight frame and other materials, it weighs only 35 grams and has a small battery attached. The drone also relies on two small, Electric propellers near the tip of each wing keep it spinning at around 200 rpm, while the wings provide the lift needed to stay aloft.

The drone’s design keeps it inherently stable in flight, which means that microprocessors that continually adjust the speed of each motor to achieve stability—something quadcopters are dependent on—aren’t needed. So, with a 250 mAh battery attached and a minimal amount of electronics to power, the drone stayed in a constant stable hover for just over 24 minutes in testing, which is impressive performance given its minimal weight.

But the market for drones really exploded once they became powerful enough to carry cameras with them. There’s not much practical use for a lightweight flying device that does nothing but fly. Drones like DJI Mini 3 Pro Capture stunningly smooth footage on the fly with a stabilizer-mounted camera, but with the added bonus of A camera of a drone that is continuously rotating at 200 rpm will usually Only dazzling shots are produced.

However, researchers have come up with a clever solution. They mounted a tiny 22-gram camera on the drone and synchronized its frame rate with the drone’s rotation, so to record forward-facing footage, the camera only captured a frame every 360-degree rotation. Using this trick, The drone is actually able to record four (mostly) Stabilized video in different orientations, 3.5 fps each.

Will this design replace what companies like DJI do with camera drones? Not immediately, but it demonstrates a new way to control flight with significantly lower power requirements, This can help increase flight time and the distance a drone can cover on a single outing.

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